Summers were endless during my childhood. The days were always very warm and busy with us inventing adventurous plays, fantasizing, being outside all day long, and not wanting to leave the playground. Our parents had to literally drag us in so we would have our meals.
Every single day the same conversation went on between our parents who were concerned about the food getting cold, and us, who were irritated about not being able to finish our play because of a mundane activity such as eating.
There was a lot of drama: begging (both our parents and us), shouting (mostly our parents), crying (mostly us), threatening (of course by our parents), and sometimes bargaining during those days. Each day was a spectacle repeating itself. And we did have an audience. For many people who were back home from work, the apartment complex of our neighborhood did not provide any possibilities for activities besides the household. Thus, once all duties were done, people often spent their afternoons watching us play.
Our most loyal audience was the Kukuk family. I do not remember their real family name (I believe almost nobody does). We dubbed them Kukuk (Engl. peek) because their hobby was observing others, including us, kids. They did not have kids of their own, so they obviously had more time on their hands as our parents did.
Every single day at 2 p.m. the Kukuk man and woman carried a blanket to their balcony and put it on the balustrade to rest their elbows on. They were punctual as a clock, that is why the Kukuk name had a double meaning (cuckoo clock). They lived directly opposite our apartment, also on the second floor.
They spent hours watching the shows we created, following our adventures, laughing, and crying with us. If there were conflicts between us kids, they were always solved quickly as the Kukuks always saw and knew exactly what happened. They were loyal witnesses one could always rely on.
On one particular summer day, we decided to pretend that we were having vacations in the mountains. Blankets, rocks, and ropes were quickly organized. We tied the rope to two trees, put up two blankets from each side of the rope, tightened them with clothespins on the upper side, and with big rocks on the bottom. A further blanket was put on the ground and two more blankets were tied to both open sides, simulating doors. Our vacation tent was born.
Initially, we were four kids who came up with the idea and built the tent, but soon enough kids from all over the neighborhood were showing up. Toys began flying from apartment windows and kids were staying in a long line wanting to get access to our tent. It was an easy choice for us: kids who were our age and with whom we were friends got in. The others were not allowed into the tent.
Nobody was as excited as the Kukuks about how the events would turn out. The drama was preprogrammed and they quickly organized some snacks so that they would not have to interrupt the show by having to go in and waste time preparing food.
Our small tent filled up with kids and toys within seconds, and even more, they were trying to force themselves in. Soon enough we were almost sitting on each other`s laps inside of our tent. It was almost impossible to move.
Suddenly Attila* (the bad boy of the neighborhood) managed to get into the tent no matter how hard we were trying to keep him out. He balanced between endless pairs of feet but soon lost his equilibrium. He landed directly on Kálmán* and Zsóka* who were sitting next to each other.
During the fall, Attila tried to hang on to something so that the fall would not be hard and grabbed one of the blankets we used for the walls of the tent.
Moments later, Attila was laying on top of Kálmán and Zsóka who were now covered by the blanket that fell from the rope under Attila´s weight.
Our tent was left with only one wall revealing a bunch of kids sitting next to each other, holding a bunch of toys. The crying began. Some of the kids ran over to Attila started punching him, Kálmán and Zsóka were desperately trying to free themselves from under the blanket and Attila´s weight, others just stood still not realizing yet what was going on. Some toys were walked on and broke.
The kids who were not allowed into the tent were maliciously laughing at us and pointing fingers. Some of the tent kids were annoyed by this and began chasing them, others started calling for their parents.
All the windows of the neighborhood´s apartments filled with anxious parents who were alarmed by the war-like noise from downstairs.
The children´s fight was transferred to the parents and it became their fight. Everybody participated and everybody shouted.
Finally, the Kukuk family was called to the witness´ stand and they were able to make justice. They described what had happened in detail, who did what at which point in time, so there was no doubt who was the culprit and thus the conflict could be solved.
Some of the kids were punished and had to go home. We could see their heads glued to the windows and looking very sad. There was no greater punishment for us than deprivation from our freedom in the playground.
The rest of us were sentenced to gather the remains of the tent war and were forbidden to continue the mountain vacation.